Game engine software used to improve crane safety

Dr. Yihai Fang and his team from Monash University’s Department of Civil Engineering has created programs using game engine software that uses sensing, simulation and visualization to enhance the safety of crane lift training and operation.

Dr. Fang said current practices in lift planning and operation are ineffective and severely out of date in terms of recognising and mitigating potential safety risks. He said they are unable to respond to the increasing complexity of and rapid changes on a construction site which puts worker’s safety at risk.

They then turned to gaming technology to help them develop simulation software that allows them to pre-plan and practice risky lift manoeuvres in a close-to-reality and risk-free virtual environment.

“Cranes are involved in a significant number of injuries and fatalities in construction, with people being hit by crane parts/loads and electrocution being the most frequent cases,” said Dr. Fang.

“Many of these incidents are due to the misjudging of space between cranes in the work site and surrounding entities, such as workers, power lines, and structures.”

“Current practices cannot ensure a safe workplace during crane lifts because of a number of deficiencies in existing planning techniques – the most severe being inadequate consideration to avoid cranes swinging over workers.”

Because of these challenges Dr. Fang and his team developed a Lift Virtual Prototyping (LVP) system which enables the lift team to plan lift activities through a process of modelling, simulation, and analysis.

The system can be used to optimize the crane’s location and lift path based on pre-designed models and accurate cloud data that represents the workspace, including up-to-date spatial constraints at the time of the lift.

Before doing the task, workers can build a virtual prototype of a crane lift in a virtual, risk-free environment and collaborate with other workers to carefully plan and time risky manoeuvres.

Dr. Fang’s team also created a Real-time Smart Crane system that can capture the crane motions and monitor the spatial clearances between the crane parts/load and surrounding entities.

The system can also tell if a worker approaches or walks into the crane workspace, and assessments can be made as safety issues emerge.

“Workers should no longer need to be concerned if a heavy load might fall on them. This technology alerts the crane operator if workers move into danger zone under heavy loads so they can adapt accordingly,” said Dr. Fang.

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